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About Us

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Who Are We?

We are a social research team from across the North and South Islands and have created this space for people to talk about the role that genetic technologies may play in their visions for the future of environmental conservation in Aotearoa / New Zealand.


There are many ways to think about this topic and many questions to be asked and we would love to hear yours.  Please sign up and

Join the Conversation.


Our Research

People have different views about the use of genetic technologies in our natural environment.  Some are supportive, some are opposed, some have questions and some concerns.  Still others haven’t thought about it, but would like to. 

This research is designed to hear and listen to all those perspectives. 

Dialogue is central to our research, so people can engage with us directly, on our website, and with their whānau and communities in inclusive, informed conversations about these complex technologies.

This research is the first step that we hope will move us all forward together, wherever those conversations take us.

Our scope is nationwide, with research teams in both the South and North Islands.  Our research partner,  Te Tira Whakamātaki – the Māori Biosecurity Network will help ensure that Māori iwi, hapū and whānau are a core part of the conversation so our research outcomes contribute to Tiriti-led science policy and governance.

The project has four stages, with each building on the one before:


This stage involves public dialogue and engagement with Māori and pakeha New Zealanders to elicit views of, aspirations for, concerns and questions about genetic technologies and its role in conservation.


This stage includes stakeholder workshops to assess and consider the results from Stage 1, and will develop scenarios for the deliberative process in Stage 3.


This stage is a deliberative process with multiple cohorts that will include public groups from Stage 1 and stakeholders from Stage 2.


This stage includes the integration, analysis and synopsis of results from Stage 3 into a final report.

We follow these stages so that our participants can genuinely drive the directions these conversations will take.  This is how we can build sustaining resources for communities, including people who feel confident to have these challenging conversations with others.

Meet Our Team

We are a multidisciplinary research team, with a breadth of expertise in kaupapa Māori research, theoretical and applied social research including deliberative processes, qualitative and quantitative research methodologies and programme evaluation.  


Our project team is well versed in transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary research.  We also include collaborations with a diverse range of scholars including scientists who are currently working in gene technology, iwi/hapū and whanau, stakeholders and applied practitioners with experience or interest in gene technologies.

Our Research Partner

Te Tira Whakamātaki (TTW) is an award winning Māori environmental not-for-profit, which is home to the Māori biosecurity network and the National Iwi Chairs Forum’s biosecurity technicians. TTW works to reverse the decline of our biodiversity, to restore balance to our natural world, and re-establish a reciprocal relationship with Papatūānuku through the use of Indigenous knowledge, philosophies and science. TTW works to ensure Māori communities have access to information, advice and training that supports and enhances Māori environmental aspirations.


Within this project, TTW will manage a separate, yet aligned series of conversations with Māori communities, focusing on understanding Indigenous perspectives in the use of genetic technologies on our taonga species.  TTW will lead the engagement with Māori and ensure the methodologies and processes appropriately capture the perspectives of iwi, hapū and whānau and lead to measurable outcomes that contribute to an equitable Tiriti-led science-policy and governance framework.


The Associate Researcher for this project, on behalf of the work of Te Tira Whakamātaki, will be Melanie Mark-Shadbolt.

Melanie Mark-Shadbolt (Ngāti Kahungunu ki Wairarapa, Ngāti Porou, Te Arawa, Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Tuwharetoa, Te Atiawa, and Clans Mackintosh and Gunn) is an Indigneous environmental sociologist, Director Māori of NZ’s Biological Heritage National Science Challenge and CEO of Te Tira Whakamātaki.


Melanie is a specialist in traditional knowledge issues as they relate specifically to biosecurity and sustainable natural resource management. Her work has covered research in stakeholder values, attitudes and behaviours, social acceptability of management practices and risk communication, and the wider human dimensions of environmental health.


To learn more about Te Tira Whakamātaki, and its work, go to

Our Project Funding

This research project is funded by the Biological Heritage National Science Challenge.

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